Linux is a free (as in libre, not always as in gratis) kernel that, together with tools from the GNU project, forms a stable, high-performance, multi-user operating system.

Its advantages over Windows are mainly ideological; it's free, usually in both of the above senses of the word, and the license, the GNU GPL, prevents proprietary implementations from screwing you over (Linux "companies" sell support, not Linux itself, for this reason).

It's also much more stable than Windows, owing to its stricter memory management, access controls, and hardware abstraction policy, and its networking performance is better since it's really meant more for servers than for desktop usage. Linux has finer-grained access control at the user and device level, though to be fair, Windows has had Unix-style file permissions since NT. Reboot times for Linux, however, are measured in months, and the only reason you should ever need to reboot Linux is if you installed a new kernel.

The disadvantages of Linux compared to Windows are mainly issues of ease of use. Linux is hard compared to Windows, mostly because it tends not to detect certain devices. This is a circular problem, because the drivers tend to be written only for Windows to begin with. It also, despite what the makers claim, *does* require some work at the terminal in most cases, and this will scare away most Windows users who never worked with Dos and the 9x series. It shouldn't, because the terminal is much more powerful and easier to use than Dos ever was, but it does.

The other main issue is that, while there are a few hundred different flavors, referred to as "distros," most of them suck. There are a few big, well-supported distros, and many are based on them: RedHat, which is popular in the corporate world, Debian, which is minimalistic and tough by itself but forms the base for the popular Ubuntu, and Slackware, which is the oldest maintained distro and is closest to the "original" Linux philosophy. There are also a few oddballs like Gentoo, which is for experts only (forces you to compile *everything* but does the annoying work for you and gives you incredible performance), and Arch, which is a minimalist hybrid of Gentoo and Slackware.

Save yourself headaches: newbies should use Ubuntu, experts should use Gentoo or Slackware, purists should use Debian, and no one should use RedHat or any RedHat based distro unless you're corporate and need it, in which case you want CentOS (RedHat for free with no tech support). Just be prepared to get your hands a little dirty, and to search the web and your distro's forums for help. There is always, always an issue that pops up that will never be in the manual or installation docs.

Most of all, remember that Linux won't insult your intelligence, but it won't hold your hand either. You can't always breeze through a Linux install like you can with Windows (though Ubuntu and friends are changing that), but you will get a solid, stable, and working system. Linux rewards effort and inquisitiveness, and punishes laziness.
Linux is about choice. That means you're free to use it, or not to use it, but it will always be here for you.
by Hazuki April 22, 2007
Short term for GNU/Linux. This operating system is created to be stable, fast, and secure. It comes in different flavors "distros" to suit everybody's needs. Help is available everywhere except from the Windows idiot. Linux is a made as open-source to allow people to edit linux itself to suit their own needs. Linux will only crash if you are too attach to windows to let go of it.

Windows in the other hand is EXPENSIVE! Windows comes with little good software, and extra applications will cost you big time. That nice noise they have when you boot is important, cause you'll have to hear that alot in one day.

Has different window managers and different desktops for different people to use. You could even make you're own window manager or desktop.

When I installed Mandrake Linux. It was easy and simple to use. I had it barely configured and used it only to help me on my homework. Then I got Nvidia drivers for my video card, and started gaming and other stuff. Now, Linux is the only thing I ever need.

Windows is a piece of crap and some nice alternatives are BSD, Mac OS X, and Solaris. These are UNIX based and are some of the best operating systems.
I can play Unreal Tournament with 1024x768 highest quality with a stable 15 fps on my Intel Celeron 500mhz, 196 mbs of ram, geforce 2 420 computer while on Linux. Windows, I can only run it with 640x480, lowest quality, with only about 8 fps.

Linux is the perfect machine for games! Nintendo and Sony, make a new console with Linux and you'll school any X-Box 2!
by Linux!!! September 24, 2004
A very stable operating system for people who want to run a server also fine for the average user. Is harder to use than windows but its worth it. Yes linux is behind when it comes to games, software and drivers. That is due to people not knowing what Linux is, also due to the fact that linux is free therefore the company does not make much money and due to lack of software developers. Simply imagine this, a operating system that doesnt crash and that preforms very well. If we piad for our Linux distrobutions and more software developer made programs, games and drivers for linux then we would acheive this. Alot of windows power users or complete morons have choosen to "bash" linux, please do not believe them, you have to be a moron to believe such crap.
Windows is a decent operating system with alot of software and alot of drivers for hardware but LINUX is more stable and preforms better and costs much less.
by A_C April 24, 2003
Possibly the best OS ever.

Why would you rather have a window than a penguin?
I installed Linux on my computer.
by kamo December 14, 2003
A very stable operating system that was created as an experiment by Linus Benedict Torvalds. He created it because he wanted to learn the inner workings of an operating system. He posted the code on the Internet for others to modify and share, and it spread like wildfire. It grew and grew and is growing every day. Although it is not as simple to use as Windows or Mac OS, it does have rock solid stability and is not uncommon to hear of systems running for many years without reboots. Many people who hate it do it to act cool, or because they dont understand it. Those who love it, love it because they understand that it may take a little while to get something working. Not those other impatient little bastards who want everyday on the double. It just needs time to get more user friendly.
Linux outperforms Windows in terms of stability.
by Giuseppe June 18, 2003
Most Linux users understand the ups and downs of all OS possibilities. Linux is lacking in some areas (ie. gaming and ease), but is slowly making it's way into the home. It has the potential to be more stable and secure if you know what you are doing with it. I have found a happy medium. I use Slackware Linux 9.1 for servers and web browsing, MacOS 9.1 for graphics, and Windows XP for gaming.
The closed minded spend too much time hating those that oppose them.
by Matt January 18, 2004
A UNIX operating system that will run on basically any computer hardware out there (even alpha). LINUX is one of the most stable operating systems ever created and has been known to run for years before needing a reboot.
The only thing that will kill a linux system is hardware or power failure.
by root@localhost August 23, 2003
An open source operating system that is for more stable than windows. The only time I use windows is to play a few games. I dual boot linix and windows on the same computer. And linux connects DSL about three times faster than windows. Linux plays my TV card without crashing. Linux does not let me change system settings without being logged in as root. While in windows, I accidentally changed the name of a system file and wasn't able to fix it for hours. Windows and Linux both have their pros and cons. Weigh them both and choose for yourself. Don't dis someone if they choose one over the other.
Linux is for those who choose not to use windows
Windows is for those who don't know they have a choice
by krypton knight December 31, 2003

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